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The audience

Newsbrands are a medium of significant scale

In the UK, newsbrands are a mass medium, offering significant scale for top-of-funnel awareness campaigns. However, there is much rhetoric around falling circulations which can often overshadow this.

The decline in national newspaper print circulation over the course of the past decade and a half is often quoted in parallel with stories about the perils of digital disruption within the media landscape. However, this narrative often fails to acknowledge the extraordinary growth in reach that newsbrands have enjoyed as a consequence of audiences shifting their news consumption habits online.

NRS PADD reach figures continue to paint a very positive picture of newbrands, which reach 21.6 million (42%) of the adult population every day – more than eat a packet of crisps, to give a bit of context. This builds to 33.1 million (63%) of the adult population every week, and 47 million (90%) of adults every month, which is in excess of Google and Facebook.

 

Newsbrand reach figures

21.6 million
Daily adult reach
33.1 million
Weekly adult reach
47 million
Monthly adult reach

The growth in newsbrands’ reach is driven by the evolution of newspapers into newsbrands, evolving from the traditional print format to tablet, mobile and online formats. The presence of thirteen UK newsbrands that still produce content on a daily basis (a figure that exceeds that of France, Germany and the US) points towards the appetite that the UK population still has for original news content. 

 

Breadth of audiences

Despite these developments there is still a mistaken belief that young people don’t read newsbrands, print in particular, and that older people are purely readers of the printed version, not ever looking at digital versions. It is as if young people don’t ever form the newsbrand habit and older people don’t change existing ingrained habits.

We know from NRS PADD data that newsbrands reach 5.1 million 18-34s every day and 13.8 million of them every month. The corresponding figures for 50-65s are 9.3 million daily and 15.7 million every month.  

 

Newsbrand reach for 18-34’s

5.1 million
Daily reach
13.8 million
Monthly reach

Newsbrands reach for 50-65’s

9.3 million
Daily reach
15.7 million
Monthly reach

When Newsworks partnered with the University of Bath and research companies Flamingo and Tapestry for ‘Generation News – a study exploring newsbrand habits in a connected age – we instinctively knew that the myths surrounding newsbrands and the generations would need to be dispelled. 

Using an innovative mix of ethnographic and quantitative research, the research’s key findings include:

  • Young people still form strong newsbrand habits, despite facing a far more cluttered news landscape than previous generations did at their age. 74% of 18-34 year olds turn to newsbrands to get a balanced point of view and 78% agree their newsbrand introduces them to stories they wouldn’t otherwise read

 

  • While there are some generational differences, the overall newsbrand habits of millennials and boomers are more influenced by engagement and interest in news than by their generation groups

 

  • For both generations, the saturation of news in a multi-platform world has strengthened the role of newsbrands as providers of ‘real’ and ‘professional’ journalism. Similarly, there is a cross-generational appreciation that newsbrands provide a sense of satisfaction and ‘a lens on the world’ by telling you what you need to know and no more
  • Millennials are more likely than boomers (50-65-year olds) to exhibit their news habits on digital devices – allowing them to ‘snack’ on news throughout the day – and have developed different routes of accessing newsbrands. For example, 73% of 18-34’s agree they visit a newsbrand website to get more information when they see an interesting story on social media

 

  • Over two million 50-65-year olds read a digital newsbrand daily (NRS PADD April 2016-March 2017) and enjoy the speed and ease with which they can access news, while also indulging in newspapers. Yet unlike their children, boomer’s newsbrand habits are more centred on specific times of day

The research identified five news habits in the way people consume newsbrand content, which transcend both millennials and boomers:

  • Fix – access news constantly, prompted by a general need and state of distraction
  • Track – access news regularly throughout the day to keep up to date with breaking stories
  • Fill – access news to pass the time when moving from one place to another
  • Indulge – making time to enjoy the news as a break from everything else in the day
  • Invest – read the news regularly to get an in-depth perspective on stories

 

While the habits are universal, millennials are more likely to adopt the Fix and Fill habits and boomers have more time to adopt the Indulge habit and – to a degree – Track and Invest.

So, it is evident that the breadth and depth of audiences that can be reached through newsbrands should be a key consideration for mass market and highly targeted campaigns alike. Where some advertising platforms have become the preserve of quite specific demographic groups, the cross-platform nature of newsbrand audiences drives considerable audience diversity.

Getting to know the Great British public

Demographics are all well and good and provide a common industry currency for understanding scale of readership. Adopting a demographic approach to targeting is commonplace within the planning community, as is putting labels on certain audience groups for the purpose of simplifying the targeting process and streamlining expenditure. This can be highly effective when executed well, but we should mindful that all too often labels become a shorthand for something that doesn’t actually exist in real life. The implications for communications are far-reaching. People feel that brands and advertisers are out of step and hence are unable to connect with them. They are frustrated by what brands and advertisers say they should value and by the images they are sold. Most don’t feel represented in the advertising they see. People want to see things like graft, personality and community celebrated in advertising and currently this is not prevalent enough.

Here at Newsworks we commissioned Flamingo and Tapestry to conduct detailed research with the aim of getting closer to the Great British public. The aim was to challenge the often-wrong assumptions that we all make about audiences and to understand what divides us, what unites us as members of society and suggest ways that advertisers can identify and connect with their audiences more effectively. We have used the insights we have gathered to put together a toolkit for media planners, to help provide a more comprehensive understanding of audiences. You can find a more detailed overview of this research on our website. However overall, the research finds that there are that there are many media labels that just don’t fit, particularly from the perspective of those being labelled:

  • Many things divide us: Fear, money and stereotypes pull people apart across the UK. People fear the unknown, have negative and often inaccurate views of how much others earn and reject stereotypes and labels that advertising and the media use to describe different groups of people, which don’t often resonate with the man on the street. In fact, they create a negative view. Many of the Great British public haven’t heard of the labels they’re assigned, they don’t understand what they are supposed to mean and they don’t think that they apply when they do understand them.

 

  • Always check the label and your assumptions: Brands and advertisers are often out of touch with the ways that the Great British public want to be represented and planners need to look closer to home to discover the real aspirations of their audiences. Labels that are being assigned to audiences don’t mean the same thing to all people, therefore they’re not recognising themselves and not identifying with the people that are supposed to portray them, their wants and their needs.

 

  • National newsbrand readers are broad communities of like-minded people: In a society where people have the desire for community to be celebrated and represented by brands and in advertising, tapping into the existing communities provided by newsbrands gives a distinct advantage. We know from Newsworks’ project ‘How people buy’ conducted in conjunction with Dr Nick Southgate, a behavioural economics expert, that newsbrands provide “a place I feel comfortable with and a place that has my values. Anything that gets mentioned in this world is fine for me”. The newsbrand environment offers a trusted context and the effects offer an automatic advantage for advertisers.
  • Many things unite us: People want to come together. We’re brought together by our beliefs, our values and our attitudes. These are set by the consumer and cannot be assigned to them by brands or advertising. There are common human values that we all share which unify us. These values go beyond politics and superficial brand purpose. We crave a sense of community. We have similar views on success and are generous towards others in our communities. To really get the most out of our targeting and planning, we must be able to appreciate the behaviour and attitudes of the person behind the label.

 

  • Recognise and explore new core values: Brands need to appeal to emotion and tell a story based around new core values of graft, personality and community. Brand communications can unify and there are significant untapped brand building opportunities for advertisers who are able to harness people’s desire to see community values and collective attitudes to things like graft and personality realised in advertising.

Newsbrands have a unique relationship with their audience:


Exploring the unique relationship that readers have with their newsbrand of choice a little further, it is evident that people demonstrate high levels of emotional engagement, trust and personal identification with their chosen newsbrand and attention levels are high. That relationship is being constantly reinforced due to the frequency of reading, and creates a significant newsbrand context effect across all platforms. Newsworks’ study ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’ points towards a significant brand rub effect between advertising medium and advertiser brand.

Readers are very aware that placement of ads in newsbrands imbues those ads with certain shared values: the advertisers take on the trusted, relevant credentials of the newsbrand. Readers can readily describe the brands that they feel fit with the newsbrands’ values. Indeed, some readers think that the newspapers choose the relevant advertisers rather than vice versa. All this primes the readers to respond more favourably to advertising and the more regular and committed the reader, the stronger the effect due to the existing relationship that they have with their newsbrand. We see this across the spectrum of newsbrand platforms.

 

A shift towards ‘audience planning’

However, we should be mindful that because of the multi-platform world that we live in, content is no longer synonymous with the platform or device on which it is read. It is fluid across platforms. As long as people are able to access the content that they love, the platform on which they consume that content is of secondary importance.

The shift in news audiences from print to online, and from desktop digital news consumption to mobile, has brought its own set of challenges in terms of how planners and buyers are valuing news audiences. This is further compounded by the prevalence of automated audience trading in the programmatic space, which arguably fails to place a true value on an impression served in a contextually rich and trusted newsbrand environment vs that served in an aggregated or user generated content site.

Measurement and evaluation tools within the publishing industry are evolving to keep pace with technological advancements and changing consumer behaviour. However despite the shift in audience viewing behaviour, most media channels – including newsbrands – are still largely planned and bought by platform and often there is no connection made between how audiences consume those different platforms. This siloed approach means that there is no view of the total newsbrand audience reached across different platforms, making it difficult to articulate the efficiencies of audience delivery and ad effectiveness.

For the publishing industry, and more specifically the newsbrand industry, there is a transformative change taking place which is enabling a shift in emphasis away from platforms towards more effective audience planning. PAMCo is the new audience measurement service, superseding NRS.

PAMCo is a ‘brand-first’ readership interview, where readership questions start by establishing whether the publishing brand is read on any digital or print platform, followed by more detailed questions about reading on print and digital platforms.

As a result, data now provides insight into de-duplicated audiences across all newsbrand platforms – mobile, tablet, PC and print. For the first time, this gives planners access to combined, cross platform reach data, as well as individual platform reach. It provides:

 

  • De-duplicated reach and frequency for all platforms
  • Single source data to understand how audiences move between platforms
  • Improved estimate of brand reach and duplication
  • Reporting newsbrand sections across print AND digital subject to sample size
  • Future proofed for new platforms
  • Increased number of brands reported across digital platforms

 

The launch of PAMCo is a significant development for agencies and advertisers as it allows planners to understand the full power and breadth of newsbrands and further reap the efficiencies of multi-platform planning by enabling a more efficient redistribution of budgets across multiple platforms. This will maximise reach and reduce the cost per thousand audience members reached.

PAMCo is available to planners now, with current NRS datasets representing a blend of NRS and PAMCo print data.

It is not appropriate to compare PAMCo and NRS data for marketing and trading purposes as they are based on different methodologies. 

 

Data fuels audience planning

Better data will always lead to more effective planning. Data driven planning and behavioural analytics data is the new fuel by which digital can add value to the advertising mix value. With few exceptions, no one knows more about the news content consumption habits of the UK population than newsbrands themselves.

Harnessing the power of real-time data to assess what content, themes and topics of interest resonate best with specific audiences can pay positive dividends when applied to the planning of branded content and display campaigns with newsbrands.

There is a long-established benefit to advertising in news print around the immediacy and responsiveness to which advertisers can react to day-to-day news events with their ad creative. The world of data driven planning takes this one step further and has increasingly seen newsbrands allow advertisers to respond to topical news events in near real-time with a raft of predefined creative. Add to this the fact that newsbrands have their own unique layer of first party data that they can derive significant advertiser value from and the opportunities in data planning and reaching an audience at the right time, in the right place, with the right message are abundant.

 

Sources:

For more information on readership please go to The market

Newsworks ‘Generation News’

Newsworks ‘The Great British Public’

Newsworks ‘Truly, Madly Deeply’

For more information about PAMCo, or to find out more about PAMCo and the staggered roll out in place to gradually move from NRS data to a full PAMCo data system, please contact the Publishers Audience Measurement Company (PAMCo).